Edited by Eric H. Kessler and Diana J. Wong-MingJi
Chapter 16: Cultural Mythology and Global Leadership in China
Diana J. Wong-MingJi INTRODUCTION This chapter explores shen-hua; shen means ‘god’, ‘divine’, ‘holy’ and hua means ‘speech’, ‘oral narrative’ or myths to explore Chinese leadership. The shen-huas provide insights into Chinese leadership and the culture as well as for Chinese managers to reflect upon their own heritage. The following discussion outlines major historical shifts in Chinese culture with broad brush strokes before outlining a sampling of shen-huas and their impact on leadership in a rapidly changing global context. China is one of the most ancient civilizations dating back over 5000 years. The national origin of China dates back to the Qin dynasty in 221 BC to 206 BC but numerous dynasties can be traced further back to a legendary period of about 3000 BC (Yang and An, 2005). China has had four different political systems – feudal before 221 BC, imperial 221 BC to 1912, republican 1912–49, and communist 1949 to present. During the Cultural Revolution (1966–76), the Po Si Jiu Campaign (Destroy the Four Old Things – old thoughts, old culture, old customs and old habits) called for the destruction of obstacles to communism (Yang and An, 2005). Cultural artifacts, statues, and temples of mythical beings were destroyed. Storytelling of myths became taboo and worshipping deities went underground until the last decade. Within a relatively large isolated geographical area hemmed in by deserts, mountains, and seas, 56 nationalities make up China. The Han is the dominant group at about 92 percent of 1.3 billion Chinese people. Hence, Chinese myths...
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